Miami and New York are wondering who will be able to play. Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers are wondering which team will land the next punch.
A pair of Game 3s await as the NBA’s conference semifinals continue on Saturday — the fifth-seeded Knicks visit the eighth-seeded Heat in the East, while the sixth-seeded Warriors visit the seventh-seeded Lakers in the West. Both series are tied 1-1.
Both have followed the same script: The road teams won Game 1, those victories going to Miami and the Lakers, while the home teams won Game 2 to even the series. The Knicks squeaked theirs out 111-105; the Warriors rolled 127-100.
“We’ll be better,” Lakers big man Anthony Davis said. “I’ll be better.”
In Miami, all eyes are on Jimmy Butler and his sprained right ankle. It kept him out of Game 2 on Tuesday, and there is some optimism he can play Saturday. Butler took to social media to show that he was putting himself through a shooting workout Thursday night.
“Our guys love to compete, any place, anywhere, against any team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have the three days off in between. It definitely helps, or at least in theory helps us gear up. But if we could have played this game (Thursday), our guys would have loved that as well.”
The Knicks have enjoyed road success all season. Including playoffs, they’re 26-18 away from Madison Square Garden this season — only Philadelphia (28-17), Boston (27-17) and Milwaukee (26-17) have been better. Sacramento was also 26-18 away from home.
It’s New York’s best road record since 1996-97, the fourth-best road mark in franchise history and a huge jump from their .306 road winning percentage over the last eight seasons before this one.
“When you go on the road, there’s less distractions,” Knicks guard Josh Hart said. “You’re not worried about family, tickets, where you’re going to eat after the game, you have nothing, only basketball.”
Golden State has struggled on the road all season; the Warriors’ 13-32 record away from home is better than that of only three teams’ — Detroit, Houston and San Antonio, the franchises that finished at the bottom of the NBA and have the best chance at winning the lottery and right to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
But the Warriors won two road playoff games against the Kings in Round 1 and now will try to win another in Los Angeles.
“It’s going to be a whole lot tougher, Game 3 in LA,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said after Game 2. “It’s a big morale boost to give ourselves life and belief that our game can carry on the road. So, I’m excited about the opportunity and the challenge ahead.”
This will be the fifth time the Lakers go into Game 3 of a series tied at 1-1 since LeBron James went to Los Angeles.
In those previous Game 3s, they’re 4-0.
“Give credit where credit’s due. They played exceptionally well and we didn’t,” James said after Game 2. “The series is tied 1-1, so that’s where we’re at.”
KNICKS AT HEAT
WARRIORS AT LAKERS
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